The Wholesome Show

A podcast

The Resurrectionists!

In the early 19th Century medical schools in England and Scotland were in a bit of a pickle. They needed a regular supply of bodies to demonstrate anatomy lessons on, but there just weren't enough being produced via 'offical' means... So they turned to some 'grey area' associates to help them out.

Will tells Rod their story!


The Diary of a Resurrectionist 1811-1812

Smithsonian Magazine: In need of cadavers, 19th century medical students raided Baltimore’s graves

The Death Penalty in Japan, with Mai Sato!

Iwao Hakamada was sentenced to death on September 11, 1968, for a 1966 quadruple murder.

On March 10, 2011, Guinness World Records certified Hakamada as the world's longest-held death row inmate.

Cool record huh! (Very very not cool).

Today we explore his story with Mai Sato!


Mai Sato & Paul Bacon (2015) “The Public Opinion Myth: Why Japan retains the death penalty.” The Death Penalty Project. 

The Irish Times: Death Row Miscarriage Case Puts Spotlight on Japanese Justice

The Guardian: Japanese Man Freed After 45 Years on Death Row Could Go Back To Jail 

The Guardian: Prisoners driven insane on Japan's death row, says Amnesty

The Conversation: Why Japan is reluctant to retry the world’s longest-serving death row inmate      

Japan Times: Story of Iwao Hakamada, boxer who spent 48 years on death row, to become manga series

Isaac Newton, Coin Detective!

Isaac Newton had an amazing career as a scientist. But did you know he also had a secret follow up career as an undercover detective chasing bad guys around London?

Rod tells Will the story!

Further reading:

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist” by Thomas Levenson. See here.

Executed today: William Chaloner

Headstuff: William Chaloner, master counterfeiter

Physics History


The Fake Fake Prison Experiment!

For nearly 50 years the Stanford Prison Experiment has been held up as the most famous experiment in psychology. Ethically flawed, sure, but at least it told us a whole lot about how bad situations make bad people...

But it was bullshit.

Will tells Rod why!

Further reading

This episode draws on Thibault Le Texier’s Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment, originally published in French as Histoire d’un mensonge: enquête sur l’expérience de Stanford.

Is Reality An Illusion?

Edgar Allan Poe once declared that 'all we see or seem is but a dream within a dream'. Poetic thoughts, sure.

But what if they're true? What if we're actually living in a simulation? I hate to break it to you, but some people think it's more likely than not - and they're trying to break out!

Rod tells Will all about it!

Further reading

NY Times: Are we living in a computer simulation? Let’s not find out

The Outline: I became a randonaut to try to glitch the simulation and all I got was a bottle of pee

Medium: We need to find out if we are living in a simulation

Reddit: Randonauts

Medium: Hacking reality expect the unexpected 

Randonauts: Guide 

John Paul Stapp And The Rocket Sled!

A drag racer can accelerate from a dead stop to 160 km/h in 0.86 seconds. That's a horizontal acceleration of 5.3 g.

For most of us that would mush our brains to the backs of our skulls and leave us in a state of piddling confusion.

But to John Paul Stapp that's baby steps.

Rod tells Will about John Paul Stapp's mission to see just how fast the human body can start and stop!

Further reading:

John Paul Stapp, 89, Is Dead; 'The Fastest Man on Earth'     

46.2 Gs!!! The Story of John Paul Stapp, ‘The Fastest Man on Earth’

The Fastest Man on Earth (Part 2 of 4): Why Everything You Know About Murphy’s Law is Wrong     

Murphy’s Law is totally misunderstood and is in fact a call to excellence

Northrop “Gee-Whizz” Decelerator Sled

The Highest Fecal Time Bomb In The World!

I hate to break it to you, but the highest mountain in the world is no longer a wilderness. Far from the distant unclimbable of Mallory and Hillary, Mt Everest is now a heaving festival of the best and worst of humanity, and an oversize garbage dump with its own nightclub.

Rod tells Will all about it!

Further reading

Five myths about Mount Everest

Mount Everest’s Strangest Artifacts and Objects

The tragic tale of Mt Everest’s Most Famous Dead Body 

Green Boots

'Every minute counts': Another climber dies on Everest as world's tallest peak overcrowds

Decades of human waste have made Mount Everest a ‘fecal time bomb’

4 Strange Mount Everest Stories

David Sharp (mountaineer)

Human Zoos!

Between the 1870s and the 1930s hundreds of zoos in Europe and America included people - yes human people - as part of their display collections. Will tells Rod all about it!

The Vague Silver Lining of Tobacco

I don't want to - ahem - blow smoke up your arse, but tobacco is not 100% satanically evil.

Wait wait, before you shoot us, yes - tobacco is 99.9999% satanically evil, and has caused untold cancers and deaths and other bad things. But... there might be a tiny sliver of a silver lining? We explore!

Peaceful Nuclear Explosions!

In the 1960s and 70s the United States and the Soviet Union had a shitload of nuclear weapons... and when all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail. So they started using their nuclear hammers to solve other... civilian problems!

Poll Failures - With Kevin Bonham

Political polls... aren't having a good run. After spectacular failures of polling in the UK in the Brexit vote and the US in the 2016 election, the malaise has come to Australia - the recent election was specatularly poorly called.

We sit down with poll analyst Dr Kevin Bonham to explore why!

Explore Kevin’s blog at

Injected With Plutonium

On May 14, 1945, Albert Stevens was injected with 131 kBq (3.55 µCi) of plutonium - the highest known radiation dose in any human - without his knowledge or informed consent.

This is his story.

A Brief History Counting People!

Statistics, you might be surprised to learn, is the science of the state. At heart the whole discipline was born from an effort to count how many people your country had, so you could know how many taxes you could collect / armies you could raise / pyramids you could build.

But the business of counting people has never been... straight forward. Sam Vilkins tells Rod and Will all about it!

Further reading:

Empire of the Census by Ed Burmila

Malthus’ Essay on Population and the American Debate over Slavery, by Dennis Hodgson

 In Donald Trump’s Census, Who Counts? by Emily Bazelon

Trump Can’t Win the War on Demography by William H. Frey

Neil Gorsuch thinks there is nothing unusual about a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Here’s why he’s wrong. By Philip Rocco

What You Need To Know About The 2020 Census by Hansi Lo Wang

See 200 Years of Twists And Turns Of Census Citizenship Questions by Hansi Lo Wang and Renee Klahr

Unexplained Aerial Phenomena! (It's The New Name For UFOs!)

In our galaxy there are billions of stars like our Sun, many of them probably billions of years older. In all likelihood, many of these stars will have Earth-like planets, and if the Earth is typical, at last some may have developed intelligent life - perhaps even billions of years more advanced than us.

It's just simple probability! But... why is the galaxy so... quiet?

Today, we explore the world of people looking for answers...

Oceans of Nuclear Waste!

Between 1946 and 1993 a bunch of countries dumped 85 PBq* of radioactive waste into the ocean. Slurries, solids, reactors - you know, the stuff you find lying around and just want to put in the ocean.**

It was terrible, and it seems we've mostly stopped it. But that shit is still down there... So we explore!

* I don't really know how much a PBq is, but it's a lot more than 'nothing', and 'nothing' is the correct amount of radioactive waste that should go into the ocean

** No, you don't find it lying around and you don't want to put it in the ocean, you're a good person listener.

Further reading

The Unusual Health Beliefs of John Harvey Kellogg!

Corn flakes are delicious. But did you know they were originally invented to lower sexual desire? (Try it yourself next time you have a bowl, but be careful!)

Their invention was part of a quest of John Harvey Kellogg's not only to improve the health of society, but to stop people from a range of other practices, including drinking, smoking, having sex and masturbating.

In this episode we explore the weird - and really quite repressive - health beliefs of John Harvey Kellogg! Today we’re joined by Sam Vilkins and Matt Phung!

The Bone Collectors

In the dying days of the Second World War, allied troops entering Strasbourg made a grisly discovery - the purpose built beginnings of a skeleton collection. This pseudoscientific collection was an attempt by the Nazis to showcase - in physical form - the alleged racial inferiority of the "Jewish race" in contrast to the German Aryan Übermenschen.

It's both disgusting, and very definitely not science. But Nazis weren't the only ones to collect human bones...

We explore the terrible terrible bone collectors!

(Australian Indigenous listeners are advised this episode contains discussion of deceased Indigenous Australians).

Further reading and references:

Museums are returning indigenous human remains but progress on repatriating objects is slow

Indigenous bones returned from overseas reveal cruel treatment

Material Legacies: Indigenous Remains and Contested Values in UK Museum Collections

Jewish Skeleton Collection

August Hirt

Wolfram Sievers

National Museum of Australia: Repatriation

The Anatomy Inspector and the Government Corpse

Anthropophagy! (It Means Cannibalism)!

Everyone has food they hate eating. For some people it's mushrooms, for others it's onions, for others it's aniseed. (For Will it's watermelon. It's the lamest melon).

But if you're starving on a desert island and there's only mushrooms, onions, aniseed or watermelon there, sure, you'll bend your rules.

But what about... other humans? How hungry do you have to get to turn to anthropophagy (it means cannibalism)?

In this episode, we explore the science, history and anthropology of anthropophagy (it means cannibalism)!